Kay Unger Design
"If you really want to pursue fashion, it is fine. But it is a very difficult business. Fashion is very inherent and fashion changes literally not just in spring and fall, but I think it changes at least 5 times a year. You always have to give your best performance. You have to work 24X7. "
Fibre2Fashion: You left your eponymous company. What keeps you busy now?
I have formed a company called Kay Unger Design and I still design. The word design is a part of everything. I am designing not just clothing, but I am using my designing power in different ways. My design sketches sell very well. I am taking out much more time for my artistry. I have started my own company to do what all I was not able to do for last 45 years. I also run the Kay Unger Family Foundation and I am involved in philanthropy. The foundation is focused on cancer care and cancer research as well as scholarship for under privileged children in New York. I am very involved in the welfare works at my alma mater, Parsons. We give scholarships at Parsons the New School for Design. So, I am busier now than ever.
Fibre2Fashion: Do you believe fashion is tough business?
If you really want to pursue fashion, it is fine. It is a very difficult business. Fashion is inherent and fashion changes literarily not just in spring and fall, but at least five times a year. You have to give your best performance. You have to work 24x7. I dont think it is this way in any other job.
Fibre2Fashion: What do you love to design in womenswear?
I love to design all kinds of womenswear because I am a woman. Male designers are projecting how a woman should look, but a woman knows better. I design through the ages, for women and for teenage girls. I design very feminine clothing. I feel a woman should feel good, look good and still be herself in what she is wearing. She should not be a fashion victim. I have been successful in knowing how to fit clothing well. This is why I love designing all kinds of dresses for women.
Fibre2Fashion: What distinguishes your creations from the rest?
Dresses are my forte. My dresses often have a lot of folds. They have beautiful draping covering the body. It is easy to wear them. The colours are usually according to trends.
Fibre2Fashion: Why did you not think of designing menswear?
I believe there is much more freedom in designing womenswear. I grew up in the 1960s in the Midwest where women wore beautiful clothes. That is what I relate to. I can style menswear, I can help them buy their clothes and change their looks, but I have really not studied any theory to make perfectly fitting mens garments. I believe, if you dont understand how to make good fitting garments, you cannot make beautiful garments.
Fibre2Fashion: Do you agree that being a designer, there is always a risk while launching anything?
One of the most important things is to understand your customer. As long as you stay loyal to your customer and you know what your customer wants and who she is, you can launch something new.
Fibre2Fashion: After more than four successful decades in the fashion world, you are an expert in the business. What is your advice for budding designers?
I think my advice is something I learned years ago but it is the same today, although easier to do now. That is, do proper research about what you want to design and where you want to sell. If you design in a vacuum, you will never succeed. If you know you are designing something unique and different, look at stores you want to sell at, look at their prices, and watch customers. Make sure to research what your customer wants. Where is the market growing? You cannot design for someone who does not exist.
Fibre2Fashion: What is your opinion about fusion fashion? Does it work well?
Yes, of course. One of the very important things in design is learning what a colony has experienced. We have our cameras so we can click the pictures of everything but so many people are not looking up. Travel to Asia, Cuba, Morocco, to see different cultures. Observe what they wear. One should go to the museums. All this inspires a designer and it makes a huge impact on the collection. But always remain loyal to your customers.
Fibre2Fashion: What do you have to say about the Indian influence on global fashion?
The fabrics we get in India are awesome. The beautiful silk fabric, the beautiful embroideries done in India, as well as the sarees and their gorgeous borders are inspirational. So are the dyes and the colours. It is one of the best cultures to inspire designers all over the world.
Fibre2Fashion: Today, you can easily relate to any audience. You have dressed a range of clients. What helped you achieve this?
I have dressed various types of people from all over the world. I have dressed celebrities and wives of Presidents. They are all just people. I think that my goal is still the same for all my clients i.e. to make them look the very best they can look. May be, for some I push myself a bit more but I never make them look like a fashion victim.
Fibre2Fashion: What is the importance of social media for students aspiring to be good designers?
Social media is essential, but it will change as time goes. If you want to grow your brand, there is a huge world out there. You have to learn the technique of how to reach your audience. But make sure to reach the audience you want. You must remember that social media helps only when you have quality products and the best designs. One should not ever forget to learn verbal communication. If you cannot talk to the person directly and communicate your ideas to the people for whom you are producing, you cannot succeed.
Fibre2Fashion: Do you think pop stars influence fashion trends?
Yes, they do. They affect all kinds of clothing. Fashion is celebrity-driven. You can see them on magazines and everywhere. If a star is wearing something, it has a huge influence.
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